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2009: Principals of the Year

Science Department Wiz
Assistant principal makes a big school feel small

Assistant principal David Marmor’s office is as crowded and busy as the rest of Francis Lewis High School. Every few minutes, it seems, students come in to talk about class assignments or extracurricular activities. Between students, Marmor takes IT questions over the phone from staff at the school, chats with teachers about the academic issues and keeps an eye on the computer lab just outside his office.

That’s just a small part of Marmor’s schedule, which typically stretches across 12 hours a day, five days a week. He’s worked at Francis Lewis for the last nine years, where he is also head of the science department and advisor to the pre-med club. Before he came to the school, though, he was a practicing chiropractor. He didn’t initially see teaching as a permanent career choice.

“It really only took a year of teaching to realize that it was something I couldn’t live without,” said Marmor, 40. “Once I realized that, I went from being a chiropractor who taught, to a teacher who was also a chiropractor.”

Now, he plans to stay at the Flushing school until he retires.

“There’s been a lot of great moments with a lot of great kids,” he said. “And a lot of tough memories. It works on both ends of the emotional spectrum. You live and die with the kids on both ends.”

And at Francis Lewis, there are plenty of kids to work with. The school is one of New York City’s most crowded, with approximately 4,600 students currently enrolled. Last year, the school received about 13,000 applications. Admission to the math and science program is more competitive than at many colleges, but the school can only offer 100 slots.

With that kind of load, Francis Lewis can’t possibly review all the applications it receives. So Marmor started brainstorming, and came up with a mathematical formula for evaluating students on the computer. It takes into account the students’ 8th-grade math and English scores, proximity to the school, academic history and attendance records.

One thing he’s passionate about is integrating new technology into the classroom, like a wireless computer called the Tablet, which is used in place of the traditional blackboard. With it, teachers can walk around the classroom while writing on the computer, which is the size and shape of a notebook. Words and pictures transmit wirelessly onto a screen that the class views.

“I hate being behind a desk,” Marmor said. “This takes us into the class, so there’s not that space between teachers and the students.”

With all these duties, it should come as no surprise that work keeps Marmor busy starting at 5 a.m. That doesn’t leave the father of four with much time for outside activities. Ask Marmor what his hobbies are, and he’s at a loss.

“It’s been 12 years since I had the opportunity to have a hobby,” he said, then paused for a second. “I listen to the radio on the way home, if that helps.”

— Mary Stachyra

David Marmor, Assistant Principal
Francis Lewis High School
5820 Utopia Parkway
Flushing, N.Y. 11365


Above: David Marmor was a chiropractor before he went into teaching, and eventually became an assistant principal. Photo by Andrew Schwartz



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